Can any dog breed be trained as a service dog?

A service dog is a specially trained dog that can perform specific tasks for people with disabilities. They’re not just for the blind—dogs can also help those with hearing impairments, epilepsy, autism, and other emotional or mental disorders (like post-traumatic stress disorder), diabetes, etc. If you have a disability that makes it difficult to live your life independently, you may want to consider applying for a service dog.

Service dogs are different from emotional support animals (ESAs). They are specifically trained to assist their owners while ESAs are not—an ESA is simply an animal that provides comfort through companionship. They’re both lovely additions to the family, but you can take only one of them into public places like restaurants and hotels!

Can Any Dog Breed Be Trained as a Service Dog?

Not every dog breed is cut out for service dog training. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t exceptions, and it doesn’t mean that mixed breeds or unregistered purebreds can’t be trained either, but as a general rule of thumb, there are specific skills that some dogs seem to come by naturally.

Best Breeds for Service Dog Training

The best breeds for service dog training have been traditionally the same ones used by hunters to retrieve games. Because hunting dogs are bred for traits that make them good at finding things, retrieving them, and bringing them back to you (think about Labrador retrievers), it’s no surprise that these same breeds tend to do well as service animals. Here are some of the top breeds used:


Considering all this, it makes sense that Labradors are also one of the more popular choices for guide dogs. They are seen as having an easygoing personality and gentle giants, making them ideal as service dogs for people with physical disabilities or who suffer from anxiety.

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are also a popular choice for service dog breeds because of their protective nature, making them great for home protection and those who need constant help due to a disability or disease. Golden Retrievers have sharp hearing and can quickly detect anything out of the ordinary.

German Shepherds

The best overall service dog breeds is the German Shepherd because they have been bred with a high intelligence level and incredible endurance. They also tend to be more independent thinkers than other breeds, so they don’t require as much oversight or direction from their handlers.


Poodles are also intelligent dogs with a lot of stress tolerance—they were initially bred to hunt ducks underwater without worrying about being bitten by the duck they were chasing.


These dogs tend to be very energetic and outgoing—two crucial qualities for service animals—but they also tend to be patient and affectionate with their handlers. They’re also generally known for being intelligent and easygoing, making them excellent at adapting well to new situations.

Worst Breeds for Service Dog Training

Some breeds aren’t very suitable as service animals because they’re too small or they aren’t able to perform all the necessary tasks, and they include;

Afghan Hound

Some of the worst dog breeds for service dog training are hounds, such as Afghan Hounds, who are bred to be independent and stubborn—they don’t respond well to commands. Afghans tend to run toward people instead of away from them; this could cause them to collide with someone or knock someone down.


Basenjis are also high-strung and prone to separation anxiety, making them unsuitable for any service work. They might have been great at hunting small game or helping out with hunting small game, but if you need help getting around because of some disability, these dogs aren’t the best choice.


Bulldogs are short-snouted and have difficulty breathing if they’re wearing a heavy service dog vest or working in a hot environment. 


The training process for service dogs is rigorous, and certain breeds just aren’t cut out for the job. Choosing the right breed for a service dog is a serious business, since these animals will be trained to help disabled people perform tasks that many of us take for granted. 

Specifically, the dog must remain calm when faced with loud noises, such as those from fireworks or thunderstorms. The animal needs to be able to endure physical challenges that could include carrying objects like a purse or briefcase. Do you want to learn more about service dogs? Contact one of our experienced dog trainers today! Or learn more about Sit Now Stay Dog Training.